My husband died two weeks ago, but I had been preparing for his death a long time. I was my husband’s caregiver and watched him summon courage when he learned he was paraplegic. I watched him adapt to failing health and make the most of each day. I watched him and learned from him.

Hundreds of times, he said, “I love you to eternity,” and I loved him the same way. I continue to feel his love and it gives me strength. During 63 years of marriage we were a couple and now it was just me, flying solo. What did I need to survive and thrive?

I need to keep doing what I do–write.  Sheltering at home because of covid-19 didn’t lesson my writing output, it increased it, and I wrote five children’s books while quarantined. Three books have come off the press and two are slated for 2021 release. These books will be available as print, eBooks, and audio books.

I need to give to others. Past grief experience taught me that giving leads to healing. At the end of his life my husband had enough medical supplies to equip a hospital room. Looking at “the stuff” made me extremely sad, so I gave it to a medical mission. When I added up the value of the stuff it was $37,000. The contact person I talked with said the donations would to go local patients.

I need to have  new interests. Months before my husband died, I took up doodle art and Enso painting. Enso means circle in Japanese and this form of painting is affiliated with Buddhism. Though I am not Buddhist, meditating for a few minutes and  painting a circle with one breath and one stroke is comforting. It’s challenging too.

I need the support of community. Together, the members of our church are a safety net. When my husband began hospice care I notified our church. I notified our church again after my husband died. The church sent an email blast to members and sympathy cards started to arrive. The cards keep coming and knowing others are thinking of me boosts my spirits.

I need to feel needed. When the Open to Hope Foundation asked me to join the team and help for a few hours a week, I was thrilled. Being asked to help was encouraging and satisfying at the same time. The position would draw upon my expertise and also challenge me, something else I need.

One by one, I tucked each of these things–feeling needed, support of community, new interests, giving to others, continuing my writing career–into my mental survival kit. Assembling a grief survival kit will not eliminate the pain of my husband’s death, but it will help make it bearable. I know my amazing, brilliant, humorous, humble husband would want me to be happy. He is part of my soul and always will be. Creating a new life is a tribute to him and the love we shared.  

There is more living to be done and I will savor every moment.

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Harriet Hodgson

Harriet Hodgson has been a freelancer for 38 years, is the author of 36 books, and thousands of print/Internet articles. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists, Minnesota Coalition for Grief Education and Support, and Grief Coalition of Southeastern Minnesota. In 2007 four of her family members died—her daughter (mother of her twin grandchildren), father-in-law, brother (and only sibling), and the twins’ father. Multiple losses shifted the focus of Hodgson’s work from general health to grief resolution and recovery, and she is the author of eight grief resources. Hodgson has appeared on more than 185 radio talk shows, including CBS Radio, dozens of blog talk radio programs, and dozens of television stations, including CNN. In addition to writing for Open to Hope, Hodgson is a contributing writer for The Grief Toolbox website, and The Caregiver Space website. A popular speaker, she has given presentations at public health, Alzheimer’s, hospice, grief, and caregiving conferences. Hodgson’s work is cited in Who’s Who of American Women, World Who’s Who of Women, Contemporary Authors, and other directories. For more information about this busy wife, grandmother, author and family caregiver, please visit

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